After another disappointing performance against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, the Toronto Maple Leafs need to trade defenseman Justin Holl.
In terms of an underdog story, there’s so much to appreciate about Justin Holl. The former highly-touted prospect worked his butt off in order to make it to the NHL and has performed admirably since he’s been given that opportunity. However, it’s unfortunately time for him to leave the Toronto Maple Leafs organization.
Most 6-foot-4, 200 pound defensemen drafted in the second-round don’t spend four years in the NCAA, then start in the ECHL. Typically they spend one, or two years in the AHL and then gradually slide into the NHL.
Holl was unlike most prospects. He spent one year in the ECHL, then three full seasons in the AHL before earning a spot in the NHL. However, once he finally made it to hockey’s best league, he only played in 11 games and was healthy-scratched for 71 games.
That’s not a nice introduction to the NHL and based on that path, many players would have given up. They would have been sick of that lifestyle and would have left the game or been happy as an AHL lifer. Instead, Holl continued to work and has been a regular with the Leafs for three seasons now.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Time to Trade Justin Holl
Despite the wonderful journey and three-year $2M AAV contract that he earned with the Toronto Maple Leafs, it’s now time to move on from him and trade him.
Holl isn’t washed-up by any means and can still help a team, but he’s hurting Toronto when he steps on the ice. As shown by his performance on Thursday night, he was a big reason as to why the team lost and a reason in many of their losses this season.
Holl is also last on the team in Corsi For %, which doesn’t help his cause.
If Holl was able to provide some offensive output, it would make sense to keep him, but he only has one point in 22 games. Since he can’t help the team offensively and hurts the team defensively every time he steps on the ice, there’s no reason to keep him here.
Holl’s contract is great, but you can find a replacement for him that’s even cheaper with Kristians Rubins. He may have only played two games with the team, but within those two games he’s been solid. If you’re worried about losing Holl’s size, Rubins’ replaces it perfectly, as he’s even bigger, standing 6-foot-5, 225 pounds.
Toronto is going to need cap-space when Petr Mrazek returns and Holl is one of their best contracts to get rid of to create that space.
If you’re going to win in the playoffs, you can’t have defensive liabilities on the ice because one turnover can cost you a playoff series. Just look at what happened last year with the Montreal Canadiens series. They had two terrible turnovers and their season was over.
As much as we can respect Justin Holl’s story, professional hockey is a harsh business. It’s time to trade him and the team should take whatever they can for him.